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China Strikes Back! In Ottawa!


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About 5-6,000 people (mostly Chinese-Canadians) jammed Parliament Hill for pro-China rally this afternoon. They wanted to show support for peace and the Olympic spirit. The 2008 Olympic games are in Beijing this summer. There was a small group of Free-Tibet protesters who stayed about a block away from the Hill.

Photograph by : Photo by Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen / CanWest News Service

No boycott

Thousands rally on Parliament Hill in support of Beijing Games

Maria Cook and Scott Cressman, Ottawa Citizen

Published: Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ottawa . A pro-China demonstration on Parliament Hill Sunday attracted an estimated 5,000 Chinese-Canadians from Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto eager to show support for the troubled Beijing Olympics.

"Olympics is nothing to do with politics," said Jeremy Zhang, a 37-year-old Ottawa chemist who emigrated from China in 2002. "I think our country deserves the Olympics. Sports is a peaceful event to join all people together."

A group of Chinese community associations organized the event following a week of chaotic protests that disrupted the world relay of the Olympic torch. Protesters in Paris, London and San Francisco have condemned Chinese human rights abuses, including recent violent confrontations in Tibet.

Early in the afternoon, a dozen pro-Tibet protesters crashed the rally.

The shouting, pro-China faction surrounded them, calling them liars paid to disrupt the event, said Nicole Demers, a volunteer with Friends of Tibet.

"They wouldn't let us be 15 people voicing our opinion in a free country."

Police told the counter-protesters that they were not safe and moved the small group down Wellington Street towards the Château Laurier. The protesters, some splattered with fake blood or gagged, waved Tibetan flags there under police supervision.

"The tone was hateful and quite intimidating when there's a dozen Tibetans up against a thousand Chinese," said Russ Hillier, a Carleton student and member of Students for a Free Tibet.

The rally aimed to repeat a party line, not promote truth or justice, he said. "Really, what these protesters are saying is very similar to what the Chinese government is saying."

The flag-waving demonstrators called for a politics-free Olympics that enjoyed the support of the Canadian government. They expressed indignation at "distorted" media reports and opposed Tibet independence.

"Tibet is part of China," said Ling Wang, the 30-year-old Toronto medical researcher. "We don't want anyone separating from our country."

It was a love-in for China. People waved the red Chinese flag, wore "I love China" T-shirts and sang along to songs that stirred nationalist sentiment.

"We want the Canadian government to treat China fairly and to treat the Olympics in a sporting way," said University of Ottawa student Hong Chen.

"Don't boycott it. We know human rights is an issue there. Give China a chance. Let's sit down and talk about it, not mix it with sports. Let the world come together to celebrate sport."

One of the rally's speakers was Henry Lu, chairman of the Chinese Community Association of Ottawa. The excited crowd punctuated his sentences with raucous cheers and flag-waving.

"Open your eyes. If you really want to know China, go there," Mr. Lu said in an interview. "Don't say things from outside."

China would host a strong Olympics despite the disputes, Mr. Lu said. For the sake of long-term relations with China, Canada should support the Games, he said.

China has made real improvements, but the world holds the nation to a different standard, he added. Western media still judge the country too harshly.

"They just try to give China a bad name, a bad image, and they are not doing that on a factual basis," agreed Adam Wang, an Ottawa translator and spokesman for the event.

"We're here to protest the violence perpetrated by the separatist movement in Tibet and their supporters," said Mr. Wang, who has lived in Canada for 20 years. "There is another side to the story; that those people who promote the message of peace actually carry out out the violence."

Mr. Wang, 50, said that Chinese Canadians feel proud that China is hosting the Olympics. "Is China perfect in terms of human rights? No. But it's changing. Boycotts are not effective and can only hurt the feelings of the Chinese people at large."

Yun Bo Liu, 24, a Carlton University biochemistry student who came to Canada six years ago, said the torch protests made him angry. "Tibet is destroying the games. They make people have the wrong image of the Olympics in China. The Olympics are not just for China. It's for everyone in the world. "

"If anyone causes problems with the Olympics, it'll be people who are against peace," said Ophir Kendler, an Israeli-born Carleton graduate student at the rally with his Chinese girlfriend.

"We know China is not good in some ways, but it's getting better and better," said Yuan Liu, a Chinese-born Carleton graduate student.

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What??? No tanks???

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Okay question does anyone know if these people are immigrants or are they in Canada (and Australia) on Visas? Or both? And who is organizing these? It all seems kind of fishy. Just looking at the pictures and reading the article it seems to perfect to be a grass roots demonstration.

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Well, any protest like this would require some degree of organisational skills and resources. That said, it's wrong to question the sincerity of their opinions. I'm sure a lot of the people there are proud, patriotic Chinese who are pissed off at what they see is their nation getting badly criticised. Fair enough!

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Well, any protest like this would require some degree of organisational skills and resources. That said, it's wrong to question the sincerity of their opinions. I'm sure a lot of the people there are proud, patriotic Chinese who are pissed off at what they see is their nation getting badly criticised. Fair enough!

I know its more of a knee jerk of mine to question people's motives (especially when i don't particularly agree with them). And I must admit that I am more than a little jealous that they were able to whip people up on such short notice -_-

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I know its more of a knee jerk of mine to question people's motives (especially when i don't particularly agree with them). And I must admit that I am more than a little jealous that they were able to whip people up on such short notice -_-

Well thanks for that honest acknowledgement. Otherwise, it reeks of sheer hypocrisy when people question the origins and purpose of pro-China demonstrators as thou they are any less legitimate in voicing their views compared to pro-Tibet ones.

That said, I only wished those red flag waving folks could at least ramp up on the "Olympics is not about politics" part (which I fully agree with) and scale down on the "I love China part" (which to me is completely irrelevant for no one is questioning that).

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I'm sure it's all at least partly orchestrated and well-funded via backdoor Chinese gov't funnels. The university student-types I can understand, but I'd also bet a lot of these Chinese folks in the crowd are immigrants not just temporary visa holders. When the chips are down, count on these people to identify themselves as Chinese and not Canadian (or American, or German, or whatever). Which I find a bit ironic, publicly showing support for a country and government that they themselves saw fit to leave behind. They can take alternate citizenship, but the true allegiance of the vast majority who left China for economic betterment (rather than political persecution) will always be to their motherland. They protest in the West because they can. I guarantee if I gathered up a group of Western friends (long term visa holders/permanent residents) here in Beijing, and held a peaceful demonstration about <fill in subject of your choice here>....we'd last about 15 minutes before landing in the clink, and then probably get deported.

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When the chips are down, count on these people to identify themselves as Chinese and not Canadian (or American, or German, or whatever). Which I find a bit ironic, publicly showing support for a country and government that they themselves saw fit to leave behind. They can take alternate citizenship, but the true allegiance of the vast majority who left China for economic betterment (rather than political persecution) will always be to their motherland.

True, especially when we see comments like:

""Olympics is nothing to do with politics," said Jeremy Zhang, a 37-year-old Ottawa chemist who emigrated from China in 2002. "I think our country deserves the Olympics. Sports is a peaceful event to join all people together.""

I immediately wondered just which country he actually belongs to now.

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Now did things like this happen in the 80 and 84 games? I know there were boycotts led by the USA and USSR but was it this controversial?

Well, 80 in Australia was pretty controversial. It pitted the Government against the Australian Olympic Committee, some athletes went, some didn't, there was lots of bitterness, and I'm sure demonstrations. If anything, I think 1980 internally was a lot more bitter _ there was the same sort of political outrage and passions, but in that case the Government(s) chose to back making the games and particpation in it a political statement. In this case, there seems to be widespread ruling-out of boycotts and official politicisation.

Edited by Sir Roltel
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but in that case the Government(s) chose to back making the games and particpation in it a political statement. In this case, there seems to be widespread ruling-out of boycotts and official politicisation.

Ah, because we are now in a much more globalised world where no one wishes to seriously offend an increasingly important economic entity?

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Canada was one of the first to say that there will be no boycott on our part.

yes after all it would be moranic to take our home team out the Vancouver 2010 games. the IOC passed that poison pill after the boycotts of the 1980's .

Don't show for one and you can forget the next olympics. Whether that applies to both winter and summer with a staggered Schedule I am not sure.

Jim jones

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Well, 80 in Australia was pretty controversial. It pitted the Government against the Australian Olympic Committee, some athletes went, some didn't, there was lots of bitterness, and I'm sure demonstrations. If anything, I think 1980 internally was a lot more bitter _ there was the same sort of political outrage and passions, but in that case the Government(s) chose to back making the games and particpation in it a political statement. In this case, there seems to be widespread ruling-out of boycotts and official politicisation.

Because there is a price to pay for taking part in a boycott. If you boycott a games you are not allowed take part in the next ones 4 years latter or as in the case of Canada perhaps the games they will host in 2010 ?

The Poison Pill installed post 1984 Basically has worked like a charm for Beijing and the IOC. Talk of leaders skipping the opening ceremonies is stupid and an insult to the Chinese. I dont agree with Chinese policy but for a short time you have to live with it .

With 1980 you had the Afghanistan Invasion by the USSR. Pretty hard politically to not boycott back then for politicians as people paying the tax money and thus funding the athletes would be rightly outraged. Holding ones nose and rewarding an invasion is a bit different then Tibet which has been occupied by China for a long while. If anything people really had to put up the stink before awarding the games.

1980 was a political lightning rod because of the direct images of Tanks going into Afghanistan . It was very sad for Canadian Athletes as a young promising Female Gymnast Elfi Schlegel was on course for a medal and could have been actually a gold medal winner in Moscow. She of course was peaking in 1980 and was too young to compete in 1976. by 1984 she was past her prime. Elfi Schlegel won gold at the Pan Am games in 1979 and the gold at the Commonwealth games in 1978. She has been a commentator for NBC for 5 Olympics and covers Gymnastics and Curling. I remember seeing Her on a late night talk show in 1976 prior to the games doing stuff Olga Korbet was only doing on the beam to the amazement of the audience . She was 11 or something.

yes that is the price that is paid for boycotts sometimes, the denial of the athletes and the rest of the world to see magic that is denied thru politics.

jim jones

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I wonder how these same protestors, urging us to support China, feel about the fact that publicly raising negative issues surrounding the Beijing Games back "home" in China can lead to conviction and a very long stay in a wonderful Chinese labour camp?

I'm also curious to know who many of these people were? I find it bizarre that a Chinese Canadian who has the advantage of reading the free world press accessable here would hold up a sign claiming that the Dalai Lama is a liar. That's just stupid. I suspect there were a few undercover Chinese agents in this crowd.

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Because there is a price to pay for taking part in a boycott. If you boycott a games you are not allowed take part in the next ones 4 years latter or as in the case of Canada perhaps the games they will host in 2010 ?

The Poison Pill installed post 1984 Basically has worked like a charm for Beijing and the IOC. Talk of leaders skipping the opening ceremonies is stupid and an insult to the Chinese. I dont agree with Chinese policy but for a short time you have to live with it .

You're not having a good week with facts Jim. There is no such poison pill. No country has been banned from the next games for boycotting the one before. The Soviet Union and the bulk of the Warsaw Bloc boycotted 1984 and competed happily in 1988. North Korea, Cuba and Ethiopia boycotted 1988 and competed happily with everyone in 1992. I could go on _ unless you want to point us to an official policy.

The chief reasons boycotts aren't being seriously considered now are that it's clear they don't work, and the fact China has too much economic clout.

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I want to know something though guys.........are the protests really Anti-China protests or Anti-Chinese occupation of Tibet Protests? I think the lines are being blurred, especially by the media!

Honestly, I'd say a little of both. I don't doubt there are a lot of people who are protesting for quite sincere, quite noble reasons. I also don't doubt that a lot are hangers-on and have more base motives.

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